UGC’s proposal to merge NEET and JEE into CUET evokes mixed reaction | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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UGC’s proposal to merge NEET and JEE into CUET evokes mixed reaction

By, New Delhi
Aug 13, 2022 04:27 AM IST

UGC chairperson M Jagadesh Kumar on Friday said the government was looking at introducing the integrated entrance exam at the earliest, preferably by next year.

The University Grants Commission’s plan to merge the national engineering and medical entrance exams into the existing Common University Entrance Test (CUET) received mixed reactions from stakeholders.

UGC chairperson M Jagadesh Kumar said the government was looking at introducing the integrated entrance exam at the earliest, preferably by next year. (Representational photo)
UGC chairperson M Jagadesh Kumar said the government was looking at introducing the integrated entrance exam at the earliest, preferably by next year. (Representational photo)

UGC chairperson M Jagadesh Kumar on Friday said the government was looking at introducing the integrated entrance exam at the earliest, preferably by next year.

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“We have three major entrance examinations — National Eligibility Entrance Exam (NEET), Joint Entrance Examination (Main) and CUET — and since a large number of students appearing for these exams are common and they are all conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA). Therefore, we thought why not use CUET scores alone for admission to multiple disciplines,” he said.

Kumar said the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 also envisages “one nation, one entrance” and this will reduce the students’ burden of taking multiple entrance examinations.However, Anand Kumar, founder of super 30 programme known for coaching underprivileged students for engineering entrance exam, said a Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) like exam, which also considers school performance, won’t work in the Indian context.

“It is because of the huge quality difference between the central and state education boards. It has to first standardise these education boards and bring all of them at par. Otherwise, students from rural areas will suffer,” he said.

“We are not opposing the idea but it should not be rushed. Otherwise it will further help the thriving coaching culture and push back students from the marginalized communities,” Anand said.

Keshav Agarwal, president, Educators Society — a consortium of around 300 coaching centres in Delhi — said: “There is a huge difference between the difficulty levels of JEE and CUET exam. Besides, so many issues have been reported during the ongoing CUET exams. The government should first conduct some successful rounds of CUET and then think about implementing something like this,” he said.

Sridhar Rajagopalan, co-founder and chief learning officer of Educational Initiatives, a leading assessments and EdTech player in India, said that the idea is worth giving a thought if the government is planning to come up with a “high quality test”. “There is no reason to have three different tests as long as you can come up with one really good entrance test. But the existing form of CUET, which is restricted to NCERT syllabus, should not be followed,” he said.

While the NEET is conducted for admission to medical courses, including MBBS and BDS, the JEE (Main) is designed for admission to various engineering courses and shortlist students who can appear for the JEE (Advanced) exam for admission to the Indian Institutes of Technologies (IITs).

“NEET requires biology, physics and chemistry, JEE requires mathematics, physics and chemistry. All these subjects are already in CUET. Therefore, it won’t be an issue for medical and engineering colleges to use CUET scores for admission,” the UGC chairperson said.

Kumar said the Union ministry of education and UGC have started the discussions to prepare the stakeholders. “We don’t want to announce anything suddenly,” he said.

The UGC will form a committee of experts to look at the present forms of entrance exams. “The committee will make recommendations for an integrated entrance exam, which will be shared with the stakeholders. Based on that, the ministry and UGC will decide the modalities of the exam,” he said.

The exam may be conducted twice a year to provide more opportunities to students. “We may conduct the first session immediately after the conclusion of board exams and other sessions can be held in November or December,” he said.

On technical glitches reported during the ongoing CUET exams for undergraduate admissions, Kumar said the NTA is working on it. “We are also discussing if the NTA can come up with its own entrance examination centres that can accommodate 300 to 400 students at a time,” he said.

Kumar said, “The question papers of all the entrance exams are strictly based on NCERT syllabus and are in multiple-choice format. NTA uses the same criteria for selecting experts for preparing these question papers. The only difference will be in the case of NEET, which is still OMR-based and not computer-based. Therefore, introducing a common entrance exam will be good from a logistical point of view and for students.”

A senior NTA official said: “Once a committee is formed and submits its recommendations, NTA will start preparing for the integrated exam.”

Meanwhile, a section of faculty members and students raised concerns over the feasibility of merging all these entrance exams. A senior IIT-Delhi official, who did not wish to be named, said, “If the NTA conducts the exam for over 20 lakh students, it will be done in at least 10 phases. So, if the exam has to be conducted twice a year, it has to be done 20 times. So many question papers have to be prepared using a limited NCERT syllabus. There is no way that the questions won’t get repeated.This will eventually affect the quality of students being selected in the colleges.”

Another official from IIT-Bombay, requesting anonymity, said, “JEE (Main) is also a qualifying exam for JEE (Advanced). The whole quality in IITs will also come down. ”

A Class 12 student at a government school in Rohini, Sumit Kumar, questioned how the government will take care of the difference in the difficulty level of the exams.“These three exams have their own difficulty levels. Both JEE(Main) and NEET are tougher than the CUET. We will have to see if the government will come up with a different cut-off system for admissions to different courses,” he said.

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